"For a movie like this a festival is crucial," Costanzo, who
said he made the movie for under 1 million euros (1.32 million
US dollar), told Reuters.
"We need the festival to make a buzz so people know about the
film and Venice is a festival that is full of passion."
That is a welcome endorsement for the Venice Film Festival's
71st edition, which opens on Wednesday with the much-anticipated
world premiere of "Birdman" by Mexican director Alejandro
Gonzalez Inarritu and starring Michael Keaton as a former
superhero trying to make a comeback.
Although it is the world's oldest film festival and perhaps its
most glamorous, with stars chauffeured to the red carpet on Lido
Island by motorboat water taxis instead of limousines, it
struggles, a bit like the city, to keep its head above water.
"For the longest time it lived off its reputation for being one
of the oldest, one of the most prestigious, one of the most
gorgeous places in Europe but in the last few years it's lost a
bit of its purpose because the independent and arthouse film
industry has been hard hit," said Scott Roxborough, German
bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter trade publication.
The festival's director, Alberto Barbera, who was brought back
in 2012 after an eight-year hiatus, has introduced a host of
innovations to keep Venice relevant at a time when the Tribeca
Festival in New York in April steals some of its artistic
thunder and the Toronto Film Festival that begins next week has
become a global cinematic mega mall.
Toronto shows hundreds of films while Venice screens 55, 20 of
those competing for the top Golden Lion award.
On the artistic front, the "Venice Days" forum, run
independently but parallel to the main lineup, this year has 14
films competing for the first time for a 20,000-euro prize.
"We are not looking for middle-of-the-road cinema. We look for
filmmakers that have made a film that breaks away from their
traditional style," its director, Giorgio Gosetti, told Reuters.
Gosetti says Venice Days lets directors meet, spend time and
dine together at its special "villa" - which he sees, without
naming it, as a world away from the likes of Toronto.
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"Film festivals today are factories or supermarkets, where everyone
goes to buy the products, speaks to nobody and then goes to the
checkout and pays," he said.
FILM MARKET ESSENTIAL
But festivals increasingly need a "checkout counter" where the
movers and shakers in the cinema world can make deals, and Barbera
gets much credit for having launched a long overdue Venice Film
Market, now in its third year.
The Venice Film Market last year recorded a 25 percent increase in
the number of distributors, producers and sales agents attending as
well as films presented over its first year, the festival says on
The aim clearly is to boost Venice's profile as a place to do
business, but John Hopewell, a reporter for trade publication
Variety, said the festival still has a long way to go.
"The number of industry participants at Venice according to the
festival itself is 1,400 and that's not much more than Locarno which
is around 1,070 or San Sebastian which is about 1,000," Hopewell
said, naming two other big European festivals.
"You would expect the industry presence in Venice to be
significantly higher but I think the Venice Film Market is a step in
the right direction."
Besides, Hopewell said, there's no better place than Venice for a
producer or film company to impress an actor or actress in a film
that's been made, or one for which they've yet to sign.
"Everyone can have a limo but not so many Hollywood actors have been
in a water taxi to arrive to walk up the staircase and suddenly
they're on an idyllic island, very relaxed, signing autographs and
you've got Venice in the background," he said.
"That's probably as glamorous if not more glamorous than Cannes and
certainly more glamorous than Toronto, Berlin or Sundance."
(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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